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5 Ways To Say No! The Disease to Please

 

5 Ways To Say No! The Disease to Please

If you’re like me, you often feel pressured to say yes to every request. Can you make cupcakes for Wednesday’s bake sale? Sure! After school, will you run carpool for soccer practice? You bet! Can you make dinner for Mrs. Jones who just had surgery? Absolutely! Did I truly want to say yes to any of those requests? No. The reality is that I say yes to every request because I am motivated by that dreaded disease: the disease to please. And, as a result, I end up overscheduling myself into an exhausted lump of quivering flesh by the end of the week. Not only do I end up giving my second best to my children, I leave little to no time for myself.

A while ago, after several sessions with my therapist, I had an epiphany about my disease.  I discovered I was trying to become this ideal superwoman who could work full time, take care of her children, teach piano lessons, take classes for personal improvement, and serve others whenever asked. If someone asked me to do something, I always answered yes because I didn’t want to hurt their feelings. If I couldn’t think of a really good reason for saying no, like a conflict in schedules, I would always feel guilty if I didn’t say yes. What my therapist helped me realize is that saying no to a request is actually saying yes to yourself. He emphasized that I should say yes to myself as frequently as possible especially to meet emotional needs, desires, and dreams. Further, he emphasized, that saying no is an essential skill in life and that there are many ways to do it in a positive, relationship-affirming way.

  1. Saying no can save relationships. If you find yourself always saying yes to your SO, you may be slowly building resentment between the two of you. If your SO wants to go fishing every Saturday and you say yes but inside you feel like you would like him to fish only once or twice a month, then you need to articulate this to him. If you say yes and then resent him for it, that resentment is like a poison that builds up and destroys relationships.
  2. Saying no is a form of self-care. It is vital for your own health to know where your limits need to be. You only have 24 hours in each day. Eight of those need to be for sleep. What are your other obligations? What is essential? What is optional? Make sure that each day you have put yourself on your schedule. Do not give away “me time.” Guard it as carefully as you would a work meeting. Creating boundaries is not a rejection of another person. It is a compassionate way of advocating for yourself.
  3. When you say no, offer an alternative IF you feel like it. No doesn’t have to be the end of the conversation if you don’t want it to be. You can offer an alternative that you feel more comfortable with. If your friend wants to go out dancing for a girl’s night, but you are not comfortable with the bar scene, tell her, “I would love to spend time with you. Could we consider a different activity instead?” Don’t ignore the request or lie and say you’re busy. Be gracious and be honest. This will help you build your relationship by avoiding the trap of resentment.
  4. Consider the situation in reverse. Have you ever hosted a party and had a friend arrive extremely late and then only stay a few minutes? It probably really hurt your feelings. What if that friend had been honest and said that they just couldn’t make it? You may have been sad at first, but then you would’ve appreciated the honesty and not wasted the emotional energy on worrying about if/when your friend would make her appearance at your shindig. If you’re tempted to say yes when you really need to say no, remember that people will understand when you need to turn them down. They would rather you know your limitations and honor your boundaries then agree to something you simply cannot do.
  5. When saying no, use “I” statements. If someone wants a little more explanation when you’re turning them down, try to focus on your feelings and needs. If you don’t want to go dancing at a bar, tell your friend, “I do not enjoy the smell of alcohol. It gives me a headache, and then I feel sick the whole day after we go dancing.” This allows you to honor self and communicate your needs at the same time.

For some people, saying no is not difficult. For me, it’s extremely difficult. It feels mean. Even if I have a really great reason for saying no, I still feel like a jerk when I need to say it. What I have to remind myself is that saying no to someone is saying yes to myself. Saying yes to myself will lead to a healthier, more balanced version of me. Offering my family and friends the happiest version of me is the best gift I can give them. Steve Jobs said, “It’s only by saying no that you can concentrate on the things that are really important.” Regardless of where you are in this journey of life, saying no will help you take time for what matters most!

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The Power of Paradigm Shifts

 

The Power of Paradigm Shifts

Jaunice spent all of her 20s and most of her 30s dating the wrong men, trying fad diets, spending hundreds of dollars on therapy, and failing to keep her New Year’s Resolutions. One Friday evening, alone again, she wept bitter tears as she snuggled in her bed and finished off a pint of chocolate ice cream. She knew the secret to success was out there, but why couldn’t she find it? Then one day, she found it in the least likely place—a sticky note on her coworker’s cubicle.

Image result for growth mindset

“Hey, Jared, what is this sticky note all about?” Jaunice queried. “Oh, that’s just to remind me not to get stuck in a toxic loop when I get frustrated with myself,” Jared responded. “I know it seems stupid, but it really works. Everyone tends to get down on themselves when they feel like they fail over and over again. They say mean things to themselves in their head. That creates toxicity and literally stops you from improving. Having alternative phrases to say can help break that toxic loop and open the door for success and happiness. I used to have to look at this sticky note 50 times a day, but now a glance once or twice will help me throughout the day. I’m reprogramming my brain!” he said with a big grin.

Jaunice couldn’t help but smile back at Jared’s enthusiasm. He was right, it did seem really dumb. However, she definitely could relate to having a toxic loop tape in her head. In fact, it was so toxic that it kept her from trying things because the fear of failure was too intense. After a few days of pondering the idea of changing her mindset, she asked Jared if she could copy his sticky note. She put hers up on her mirror so she could review the principles as she got ready. She also took a picture of it on her cell phone so she could review it throughout the day. When she caught herself playing the toxic loop tape in her head, she would pull out her cell phone and look at the picture. She would change the phrasing in her head to match the growth mindset.

Within just a few days, Jaunice noticed that she felt less hopeless. Her anxiety levels dropped and she began to sleep better at night. She was pleasantly surprised at how much happier she felt and this translated into all areas of her life. She couldn’t deny how powerful this simple concept was—understanding that growth takes time but that it was possible for EVERYONE!

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Know Thyself

 

Know Thyself

 

I have this coworker. He’s a decent guy. Hard worker. He often laments to me that even though he has a great job and is fairly attractive, he can’t seem to maintain a relationship for very long. He’s anxious to find someone he can spend his life with but usually after a few dates with a woman he’s interested in, she tells him she wants to date other people. He seems genuinely puzzled by this pattern. I know why women run screaming for the hills after a few dates. I just don’t know how to tell him. He has a personality quirk that is very off-putting, and he seems completely oblivious to it.

Somehow he never developed the ability to be introspective about himself. He never developed self-knowledge based on how people reacted to him. He missed the subtle social cues people give like changing the subject, breaking eye contact, turning their bodies away from him, that indicates they were uncomfortable with what he was saying or doing. He couldn’t recognize the negative effects his personality had on conversations he tried to have with other people. Because of this, he has developed a blind spot to self-knowledge. As a result, he has one failure after another as he tries to date and form relationships with women.

Self-knowledge 

Self-knowledge refers to the knowledge of your own tendencies of behavior or ways of being. It’s being aware of the parts of your personality that others may find annoying, bizarre, rude, embarrassing, etc. There is nothing wrong with embracing the parts of your personality that make you truly unique and special, but in the social dance we all participate in (especially when dating and forming relationships) some behaviors and quirks should be eliminated. Some people think their jokes are hilarious when they really aren’t. Some people monopolize a conversation. Some people think their distinctive style makes them unique when it doesn’t. Some people wear too much cologne. Some people wear too much makeup. Some people are arrogant. The list is endless.

Many of us develop self-knowledge as we wade through the tumultuous teenage years and into our twenties. We learn appropriate social interactions and how to present ourselves in a polished yet genuine way. However, we all suffer from blind spots to self-knowledge. This can be problematic when we are trying to find a companion and/or build a relationship with a SO.

If you have experienced a pattern of failed relationships or manage to get a couple dates out of a woman/man and then get politely brushed off, you may want to see if there are blind spots in your self-knowledge. If you are introspective and honest, you can do this on your own, but if you are truly clueless you may want to find some courage and solicit the help of coworkers or a past SO and ask for an “exit interview.” Be prepared to hear some things that might be painful. Truth can hurt, but it can also help you understand how you present yourself to others. If you solicit the help of an ex-, make sure they understand this conversation isn’t designed to get back together with them. Express to them your desire to understand how things went awry. After the conversation, spend some time journaling the information that was shared, how you feel about it, and what (if anything) you plan to do with that information.

During a similar conversation with my SO, I was given the feedback that I make people feel stupid when I talk. I never realized that that is how I came across. I was crushed and angry when I heard this feedback, but the more I pondered this information I realized that it was quite possibly true. I have been a teacher for over 20 years and part of that job requires me to be the authoritative voice in the room. That authoritative voice has become part of my personality, and slowly my classroom persona had crept into my social personality without me noticing it. I felt horrified that my interactions with others had become marred by this personality quirk I hadn’t been aware of until my SO brought it to my attention. Thankfully, I now have this self-knowledge and can be more sensitive to other’s feelings when I interact with them.

Research shows the average person tends to believe he or she is above average in many things. How can we all be above average? It’s statistically impossible! This just illustrates that many of us struggle to see ourselves accurately.  Every day we base decisions on how we perceive ourselves. When we base those decisions on flawed self-assessments, we run the risk of causing harm to ourselves or others. And, when we are trying to find our soul mate or building a life-long relationship with someone, overlooking our personality’s flaws can be fatal.